The state Supreme Court’s ruling that the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has authority over deer farms will lead to the agency putting many of these small enterprises out of business. The court battle started several years ago after the MDC proposed costly and unscientific regulations on deer farms, and the agency is now able to impose them—no doubt with a vengeance.
The MDC acts as if its regulations are justified to stop Chronic Wasting Disease. However, it is free-ranging animals that have spread the disease across the state. Deer farms, by contrast, are a closed environment that can be controlled. Deer farms that want to import or export deer must have a certified herd—meaning every eligible animal at that facility must have been tested for CWD for at least 5 years with no positive results. If CWD is spread to a farm by free-ranging animals, the whole operation may be quarantined and depopulated.
Meanwhile, the MDC recently imported elk from western, CWD-positive areas for relocation in Missouri. Yet it did not follow the same rigorous standards that farmers have to follow to import deer—showing the hypocrisy of the MDC’s position. Consider that an Arkansas elk relocation right next door to Missouri, which was similarly unmonitored, has a 23% infection rate for CWD.
It’s important for the public to understand that farms have been helping fight against it for years, abiding by regulations and contributing to scientific research to battle CWD. The legislature, recognizing MDC’s bias, previously attempted to shift oversight from MDC to the state Department of Agriculture, only to be vetoed by former Gov. Nixon. Legislators should make passing another bill a top priority.
American Cervid Alliance